Interventions outside the workplace to reduce sedentary behaviour - new review

Photo by Grant on Unsplash

Read the full review

Interventions outside the workplace to reduce sedentary behaviour


Adults spend most of their time outside of their workplace being sedentary, for example, sitting while watching TV or using a computer, or travelling to and from work in a car. Prolonged sedentary behaviour has been linked with increased risk of several diseases and premature death. We do not yet know if interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour outside the workplace are effective. This review will tell us whether there is evidence that these interventions reduce sedentary behaviour.

Main findings

We searched for studies up to 14 April 2020. We found 13 relevant studies involving a total of 1770 participants. All were conducted in high‐income countries, at universities, in home/community, online, and in primary care. The average age of participants in these studies was between 20 and 41 years. Most participants were female. All interventions were targeted at the individual: none were environmental or policy. Intervention components included personal monitoring devices, information or education, counselling, and prompts to reduce sedentary behaviour.

We examined the following primary outcomes: device‐measured sedentary time, self‐report sitting time, self‐report TV viewing time, and breaks in sedentary time. The certainty of evidence was moderate to very low, mainly due to concerns about risk of bias, inconsistent findings, and imprecise results. "Moderate" indicates that further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate. "Very low" indicates that any estimate of effect is very uncertain. Overall there is not enough evidence to support conclusions about whether interventions are effective in reducing sedentary behaviour. Collectively, studies did not provide evidence of an effect on device‐measured total sedentary time, nor on the subsets of self‐report sitting time, TV viewing time, or breaks in sedentary time.

We examined the following secondary outcomes: body composition, markers of insulin resistance, device measured moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity (MVPA), self‐report light physical activity (PA), and step count. The certainty of evidence was moderate for body mass index and glucose, therefore interventions outside the workplace probably have little or no different on these outcomes. Interventions may have little or no difference on MPVA in the short term, steps and waist circumference (low‐certainty evidence). We are uncertain whether interventions improve MVPA in the medium term and light PA (very low‐certainty evidence). The included studies did not report any data on adverse events or symptoms.


Interventions outside the workplace to reduce sedentary behaviour probably lead to little or no difference in sedentary time. We are uncertain whether interventions outside the workplace reduce sitting time. Interventions may produce little or no difference in self‐report TV viewing time. More research is needed to assess the effectiveness of interventions, and studies should include participants from varying age, socioeconomic, and ethnic groups.